Condemned To The Breaking Wheel

Don’t play this one out loud if you are intending to sit back and relax with the family on the Easter Weekend. Even though we all know that it’s what Jesus would have really wanted, this is a bludgeoning assault that could have moved that stone without any divine intervention.

Canadian quartet ISCHEMIC don’t pull any punches, delivering an intense and unrelenting aural attack that combines death metal, doom, and blackened thrash in a visceral metaphorical fist. Not for the faint hearted, the title track that rolls out of the speakers provides all the subtlety of a Panzer Division. There are battering ram drums, punishing riffs, and the hideously demonic roars of vocalist Isabelle Tazbir, who has a death growl that appears to have been hewn from the same rock as John Tardy, Karl Willets and Angela Gossow.

Whilst the powerful blasts that hit are repetitive in nature, what ISCHEMIC do well is evident in their sheer punishing delivery. This is one mean wall of noise, underpinned by the slightest hint of melody, provided by the intricate guitar work of Adam Korchok. Initially I was pondering where the doom was hiding, but the midpoint of the song sees the tempo tuned down several notches, and then the doom comes to the fore. It’s crushingly heavy stuff, and although it slows, the intensity if anything ramps up.

At just over nine-minutes, this is a gargantuan opener, and one that illustrates all one needs to know about ISCHEMIC. If there was a soundtrack to the apocalypse, Condemned To The Breaking Wheel would be it. Harrowing and impressive in equal measure, few bands can bring such atmosphere to an EP.

Korchok and Tazbir are the central spine of the band, having been founder members in 2012 when the first incarnations of the band arrived. It’s bassist Lyndon Quadros and drummer Mrudul Kamble that do the heavy lifting though, anchoring the band with a driving engine that doesn’t show one iota of stalling.

Over the next 20-plus minutes, ISCHEMIC switch between their trademark powerhouse chug and sludgy, almost glacial movements which is where they appear to want to stay. The thunderous drums and shimmering guitars meld into a ferocious wall of noise, rarely pausing for any type of breather. Tomb Fog could hardly have been named better, such is the swirling chaos that envelops the listener for much of it. It’s no less aggressive for Rust And Bones and final song Abandon.

Visceral, savage, and relentless, this is music with which you could crack pavements. There isn’t much fat to trim on the release, and despite the lengthy songs, it’s an EP that flows along with an intoxicating richness that simply washes over you. For such brutal music, it’s amazing how it can level you out. The vocals or musical style will leave many reaching for the off button, but if you like this combination, then ISCHEMIC’s latest release may well be something to consider.

Paul Hutchings